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THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO.

CHAPTER I.

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY.

If we look at a globe or a map of the eastern hemisphere, we shall perceive between Asia and Australia a number of large and small islands, forming a connected group distinct from those great masses of land, and having little connection with either of them. Situated upon the equator, and bathed by the tepid water of the great tropical oceans, this region enjoys a climate more uniformly hot and moist than almost any other part of the globe, and teems with natural productions which are elsewhere unknown. The richest of fruits and the most precious of spices are here indigenous. It produces the giant flowers of the Rafflesia, the great green-winged Ornithoptera (princes among the butterfly tribes), the manlike orang-utan, and the gorgeous birds of paradise. It is inhabited by a peculiar and interesting race of mankind-the Malay, found nowhere beyond the limits of this insular tract, which has hence been named the Malay Archipelago.

To the ordinary Englishman this is perhaps the least known part of the globe. Our possessions in it are few and scanty; scarcely any of our travellers go to explore it; and in many collections of maps it is almost ignored, being divided between Asia and the Pacific Islands. It thus happens that few persons realize that, as a whole, it is comparable with the primary divisions of the globe, and that some of its separate islands are larger than France or the Austrian empire. The traveller, however, soon acquires different ideas. He sails for days, or even for weeks, along the shores of one of these great islands, often so great that its inhabitants believe it to be a vast continent. He finds that voyages among these islands

are commonly reckoned by weeks and months, and that their several inhabitants are often as little known to each other as are the native races of the northern to those of the southern

continent of America. He soon comes to look upon this region as one apart from the rest of the world, with its own races of men and its own aspects of nature; with its own ideas, feelings, customs, and modes of speech, and with a climate, vegetation, and animated life altogether peculiar to itself.

From many points of view these islands form one compact geographical whole, and as such they have always been treated by travellers and men of science; but a more careful and detailed study of them under various aspects reveals the unexpected fact that they are divisible into two portions nearly equal in extent, which widely differ in their natural products, and really form parts of two of the primary divisions of the earth. I have been able to prove this in considerable detail by my observations on the natural history of the various parts of the Archipelago; and as in the description of my travels and residence in the several islands I shall have to refer continually to this view, and adduce facts in support of it, I have thought it advisable to commence with a general sketch of such of the main features of the Malayan region as will render the facts hereafter brought forward more interesting, and their bearing on the general question more easily understood, I proceed, therefore, to sketch the limits and extent of the Archipelago, and to point out the more striking features of its geology, physical geography, vegetation, and animal life.

Definition and Boundaries.-For reasons which depend mainly on the distribution of animal life, I consider the Malay Archipelago to include the Malay Peninsula as far as Tenasserim, and the Nicobar Islands on the west, the Philippines on the north, and the Solomon Islands beyond New Guinea on the east. All the great islands included within these limits are connected together by innumerable smaller ones, so that no one of them seems to be distinctly separated from the rest. With but few exceptions, all enjoy a uniform and very similar climate, and are covered with a luxuriant forest vegetation. Whether we study their form and distribution on maps, or actually travel from island to island, our first impression will

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY.

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be that they form a connected whole, all the parts of which are intimately related to each other.

Extent of the Archipelago and Islands.-The Malay Archipelago extends for more than 4000 miles in length from east to west, and is about 1300 in breadth from north to south. It would stretch over an expanse equal to that of all Europe

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THE BRITISH ISLES AND BORNEO ON THE SAME SCALE.

from the extreme west far into Central Asia, or would cover the widest parts of South America, and extend far beyond the land into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It includes three islands larger than Great Britain; and in one of them, Borneo, the whole of the British Isles might be set down, and would be surrounded by a sea of forests. New Guinea, though less

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